Tuesday, November 28, 2023

God's People

There's a very common word running through our English bibles when God is speaking and laying out His plan and His promises. That word is "you."

The trouble with English is that we are prone to misunderstand what this little word means. In our individualistic, self-centered culture in which we are praised for self-reliance and self-sufficiency and self-actualization, we read that word and believe that the Bible is talking just about us. Singular. Me. The individual. 

But the very common word that is running through our Bible is not "you" (singular). It is "you" (plural). It's "you all." It's "y'all." You, as a group. You, together. You, collectively. The people - the children - of God. 

And this is very consistent with the rest of God's story. 

Oh, sure, God made promises through individuals like Noah and Abraham. He worked through individuals like David and Solomon. He tells the stories of individuals like Job and Paul. But overwhelmingly, the Bible talks about the way that God works through His people - plural. As a group. 

He talks about the way that Israel - the whole nation - will be a beacon in the world. All of the other peoples will see something in them as a group that will draw them to God. Their worship and faithfulness, collectively, will be a testimony to His glory. His plan has always been to redeem the world through His people - not His individual persons, but His people as a group. 

When Jesus comes, what's the first thing He does in His ministry? He forms a group. A collective "we." A plural "you." He chooses 12 guys and tells them plainly, Y'all will change the world. It's not that Peter is going to change a little bit of the world and Andrew is going to change a different little bit of it and Bartholomew is going to impact this little section over here while Thomas impacts that little section over there. It's that the collective testimony and witness of this group, taken together, will change the world. It's that from these twelve men, collectively, the entire world will be changed. 

And that is something that we have lost sight of in our culture, in the way that we've been taught to think about "you." Because we hear messages about how we're supposed to be God's people in the world, and we think that means we're supposed to be God's individual persons. So we've taken on our shoulders this great big burden. We even preach in our churches about how many individuals we, as individuals, have brought to Christ. How many have you (singular) invited to church lately? How many have you (singular) prayed for? When you get to heaven, how many persons will be there to great you (singular) and thank you for your individual witness into their lives? 

Yes, we are really talking about this. 

But the story of God is not an individual story, and this is one reason our churches are struggling so much. Because we are not the sum of our individual persons; we are something greater than that - we are a people. And it is a people that God has always used to be a witness to the world. A you (plural). You all. Y'all. Us all. 

And if we ever want to see God do amazing things like He's done throughout this entire story that He's given us, we have to find a way to push back against our individualistic culture and recapture this sense of who we (plural) are. Because that is who God has always called us to be. 

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